In commenting on the controversy surrounding Professor David Myers, the newly hired president and CEO of the Center for Jewish History (CJH), Gary Rosenblatt concluded that, “Unfortunately, in the current toxic political climate … it is normative behavior for those who disagree on an issue — in this case, what it means to be “pro-Israel” — to seek to marginalize, demonize and defeat those with a different point of view, and use whatever means necessary to do so” (“A Scholar’s Education: Lessons From The David Myers Controversy,” Sept. 29).
This conclusion is only half true, and is an example of false equivalency about the behavior of the left and right in Zionist circles.
For Ameinu, and the six other Zionist groups who wrote to the CJH leadership to support their decision to hire David Myers, this case is not just about an effort by a small group of loud right-wing activists trying to destroy the reputation of a respected scholar with stellar academic credentials and left-wing politics. It is also a frontal attack on the essential legitimacy of liberal and progressive Zionists, since it argues that our views, including the widely held notion that there is an Israeli occupation of Palestinian people and land, disqualify us from leadership in the American Jewish community.
It is true that we believe that the groups attacking Professor Myers are acting in ways that are extremely harmful to Israel, the Zionist movement and the American Jewish community. But our groups do not question the legitimacy of their commitment to Israel and recognize that individuals who may disagree with us, even on central issues like the occupation, can still make vital contributions as leaders in the Jewish community.
While left Zionists are committed to dialogue, debate and pluralism, our opponents on the Zionist right, as seen in the Myers case, are committed to smears, defamation and blacklisting. These two approaches are simply not equivalent.